119. Telegram From the Representative to the United Nations (Lodge) to the Department of State 0

From Lodge.

Following is my conversation with Gromyko at his request after Mayor’s dinner in Los Angeles tonight in which he complained (a)that we were organizing provocative questions, (b)that police cordons were keeping Khrushchev from ordinary people, (c)that Pittsburgh might be dropped from schedule, and (d)that perhaps he should curtail rest of trip and return to Washington.
I will call you at 9:45 Washington time tomorrow (Sunday) morning to discuss this with you.

After the Mayor’s dinner in Los Angeles tonight Gromyko called me and said he wanted to see me with his interpreter. On his arrival I said that I was worried that Khrushchev was getting too tired. Gromyko then immediately took floor and said in Russian: I have come to draw your attention in accordance with wishes of Mr. Khrushchev to say following:

It is now becoming obvious that in almost every place questions are being raised which in our conviction should not be raised if you are guided by good intentions. These questions do not seem to be fortuitous but to make complicated the position of the Chairman of Ministers and negatively to affect outcome of visit. A typical example was today at dinner but this was not only one. You saw yourself that Chairman of Council of Ministers had prepared a speech1 which had no polemics and would not provide polemics. He had no intention of any aggravation cropping up, but it would have been strange if he had not replied to Mayor’s speech.2 This was characteristic but far from only such occasion.

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Impression is being generated that Prime Minister is being secluded by police cordon so that there are no possibilities of meeting with ordinary citizens. We have no objections to security measures but it is our impression that police cordon is being used to prevent him from any contacts.

Regarding Pittsburgh, it was difficult to understand in what situation Prime Minister would find himself. What is the purpose? If major strike is still going on he doubts whether it is worthwhile to go there at all. Otherwise Chairman of Council of Ministers would find himself in a false position.

Next question is whether trip should not be curtailed entirely and Prime Minister returned to Washington to talk to President.

Lodge replied: I certainly hold no brief for questions that have been asked on various occasions but I am sure that on reflection you and Mr. Khrushchev will not think they have been instigated by United States Government to make his visit a failure. I can’t believe that you or Khrushchev would believe that. You Gromyko know United States too well to think that. President Eisenhower is not as underhanded or so stupid to do that. We have no control over local politicians. I have been trying all day to persuade Mayor not to make such an unsuitable speech. I can understand why with your different system Mr. Khrushchev might think we can control them, but you have been an ambassador here and you know the United States. United States Government has had no hand at all in this. We have been exerting a moderating influence. If you had seen what he was going to say and took out you would realize that I really accomplished something. I want to deny most vigorously that we are instigating this. I want to do this very very strongly. President would not invite him and then want to make him unhappy. He wants his trip to be useful and interesting and successful.

On police cordon, it is not for purpose of keeping him from the people. I told Mr. Khrushchev today he could see a super-market or stop at a shop or get out and shake hands with people. Monday he will lunch in cafeteria of IBM plant with workers. We are very happy to have him meet any workers he wants. Police are for security. There are people in the United States with strong feelings for various reasons and we must protect him. I thought police in New York did a very good job. There is no disposition to wall him off from workers.

I also understand about how you feel about Pittsburgh. It is perfectly agreeable to me to call off whole trip and go back to Washington. There have been too many banquets and they have lasted much too long and there is no reason why a man of Khrushchev’s eminence should be [Page 430] subject to so much annoyance. Going back to Washington would be perfectly agreeable.

Gromyko: Impression is taking shape that all these gatherings are marked by one general trend. You can see this better than we. I can repeat words of Prime Minister when he has often said that he had not come to beg for anything but to find a common language between us. I can cite Khrushchev’s statement that he believes in the good intentions of President. But there is distinction between what President says and what happens.

Lodge: As President said to Khrushchev at Soviet dinner, when he (President) winks the people only laugh.3 I know you have control but we do not. I tried to talk Mayor out of this speech. He would not drop it entirely. I spoke to him both at luncheon at Fox Studio and tonight.

Gromyko: (At this point Gromyko started speaking in ordinary conversational tones. his manner changed. He ceased being so official and became more human.) We thought provocative elements were being used to sharpen situation.

Lodge: Motive for this is not from United States Government. Motive is personal ambitions of a local politician to have his moment in limelight with world figure like Khrushchev and they see this very eminent man coming into their town and want to get into limelight for some personal ambition of their own. This is not some plot out of Washington. I hope you, Mr. Gromyko, will explain this to Mr. Khrushchev. He might not believe me because I am an American. Our ways may seem strange. We are a loosely organized country compared with the Soviet Union. We are not directed closely from central point.

Gromyko: Speaking frankly, you are representative of President and maybe I could make personal suggestion. You could say something in your speech. You could point out that Khrushchev is an official guest and that certain conclusions should be made from this with respect to behavior.

Lodge: I spoke to Mayor about this today.

Gromyko: You could even do this in speeches. You could use your influence.

Lodge: That is a good opinion. I did tell Mayor today. All I said tonight in my speech was what Khrushchev approved of my doing when I mentioned it in plane this morning. We even have a selfish interest in this of our own because President is going to USSR and because of [Page 431] forthcoming talks in Washington. We have every interest in trip being successful. I am glad you came to tell me. I would much rather have you tell me what you think than withhold it from me. Things have happened that I regret but there has been no connivance. We will be delighted to make it possible for him to mingle with working people and will call rest of trip off if he so desires.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.6111/9–2059. Confidential; Niact. Transmitted as DTG 200903Z September.
  2. For text of Khrushchev’s speech at a dinner given by Mayor of Los Angeles Norris Poulson, see The New York Times, September 21, 1959.
  3. A copy of Poulson’s speech, in which he referred to Khrushchev’s remark that we will bury you,” is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1474.
  4. In his toast at the dinner at the Soviet Embassy on September 16, Eisenhower remarked that during his visit to the United States Khrushchev would see that the American people do not react to our (winking?) and that they do not take orders from us.” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 81, CF 1475B)
  5. This telegram bears no signature.